Unfortunate Home Improvements

Home-Improvement-ProjectHome improvement projects can be a lot of fun — and sometimes add value to your home — but are they worth the money they cost? If you have plans to one day move out of your home (or even if you don’t), you should consider how the project impacts the resale value. Below are some home improvement projects that are typically not worth the cash.

A new pool. We can’t blame you for wanting a pool. However, keep in mind that the cost of installing one and then maintaining it is quite high. Also, if you’re planning on selling down the road, remember that some buyers could be turned off by a pool, like parents with small children.

Extensive customization. While a lot of people might like a kitchen backsplash, the type of backsplash makes a big difference. You shouldn’t go overboard customizing (particularly if you’ve got unusual taste), because if you do, you could risk alienating buyers down the road.

Half measures. If you can add a bedroom, great. Those often are worth the money. However, don’t add square footage to your home in bits and pieces. Eventually the home will look disjointed, and buyers typically want a home that flows well.
Taking away a bedroom. Buyers will want a certain number of bedrooms, so try to avoid converting them when considering altering your space.

First Financial’s Home Improvement Loan is designed to help you create the home you’ve been imagining. It’s time to move your “wants” to the top of your to-do list.*

*Available on primary residence only, subject to underwriting guidelines. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth of Ocean Counties. See credit union for details.

Article courtesy of Chris O’Shea of SavvyMoney.com.

Thinning Out the Document Mess

files_pileWhen’s the last time you took a peek at the filing cabinets in your home office?  A lifetime of financial matters means accumulating a lifetime of documents. Let’s get a grip on things and whittle down the mess. Below is a list of the financial documents you should keep and for how long.

  • Tax returns. The IRS recommends keeping these for at least three years.
  • Investments. Just like the tax returns, keep capital gains tax reports and 1099 forms for at least three years.
  • 401(k) statements. Save the end of year and quarterly statements for the current year. After that, shred them.
  • Pay stubs, credit card, and bank statements. If all is well with your accounts (they are balanced and there is no fraud) go ahead and get rid of these items.
  • Loans. Keep one statement with your current balance. If you have paid the loan off, keep the final statement for at least seven years.
  • Insurance policies. Keep them until the policy is no longer in use.
  • Medical records. Medical bills from your insurance, hospital bills and other medical-related statements should be kept for five years.
  • Real estate records. Keep any purchase, sale or home improvement receipts for as long as you own the underlying asset.

Getting organized is an important step in getting on top of your finances – happy organizing!

*Article courtesy of Chris O’Shea of SavvyMoney.com.

Learn “Blogging for Business: Content Marketing 101” at this Seminar in September 2015

Fotolia_38223665_Subscription_Monthly_XL-1024x709With organic reach numbers free falling on Facebook, the importance of owning your media vs. renting it, is becoming more and more evident. Blogging is becoming the go-to avenue for “expertise” information on endless topics and enables you to reach a vast target audience. This seminar will teach all attendees the basics of blogging for your business and how you can get started right away!

Attending this seminar, you will learn:

  • What is content marketing and why is it important?
  • Where content ideas come from
  • WordPress basics, favorite plugins, and more
  • How to build your readership and sustain engagement

Join us on Thursday, September 17th for networking at 8:30am and then promptly at 9:00am for our business seminar titled, Blogging for Business: Content Marketing 101, presented by Deborah Smith, owner of Foxtrot Media, LLC. Cost to attend this seminar is $10. The seminar will be held at First Financial’s Corporate Office located at 1800, Rt. 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302, Wall NJ. Space is limited – Register today!

Deborah Smith is the owner of Foxtrot Media, LLC a Social Media Consulting and Management company. Deborah got her start in social media over 12 years ago when she launched an E-Commerce business which operated a network of websites serving the Nanny Industry. She began employing email groups, chat rooms and online message boards as marketing and networking tools well before the term “Social Media” was ever conceived. When the new tools like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn emerged, Deborah was an early adopter and soon mastered these tools for her own business. In 2007, she launched her first blog, JerseyBites.com, a collaborative food blog with over 35 contributors throughout the state. JerseyBites now welcomes over 25,000 visitors per month and was recently named content partner to NJ.com for food news in New Jersey. Deborah was also recently named one of 100 Constant Contact local experts in the country. She is an experienced corporate trainer and social media consultant for businesses throughout the tri-state area.

Capture Your Best #MoneyMoment for a Chance to Win!

Selfie Contest

You know that look when you find an extra $20 in your jeans pocket or when it’s payday? Capture your best #moneymoment by snapping a selfie and sharing it with us to be entered to win a $50 Snapfish Gift Card Grand Prize on 9/8/15. The first 50 participants will automatically win a selfie stick too! Get an extra entry into the grand prize drawing when you take a selfie in a First Financial branch with #moneymoment.

Visit our Facebook page to enter – simply click on the “#MoneyMoment” tab and follow the instructions to upload your #moneymoment selfie.

For additional questions, call us at 866.750.0100, email info@firstffcu.com, or stop and see us in any branch!

*This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook. Contest will run until 5:00 PM EST on 9/8/2015 and is open to those ages 18 or over. The first 50 participants who submit a #moneymoment selfie will automatically win a selfie stick, and one grand prize winner will be randomly selected to a $50 Snapfish Gift Card. During the contest period, participants will need to submit an entry using the form provided on Facebook and clicking “submit.” One entry per person, per email address, and per household during the contest period. One additional extra entry per person taken in a First Financial branch location only, will be permitted to qualify as an additional entry into the grand prize drawing. The photo must be uploaded to First Financial’s Facebook contest page using #moneymoment during the contest period. There is no cash alternative to the stated prizes, and the prizes are non-transferrable and non-refundable. Winners will be notified by First Financial FCU. Prizes must be picked up at a First Financial branch and will not be mailed. No purchase necessary. See Facebook contest tab for full contest rules and details. Employees of the credit union, board members, volunteers and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate in this contest. Federally insured by NCUA.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this August 2015

Family-in-PoolHappy summer everyone! As we continue to enjoy the beautiful weather and the fun outdoor activities – here are a few exciting events that you and your family and friends can attend all month long. Remember to get out and embrace the summer fun while it lasts!

Tuesday, August 4: Enjoy a night out to see The Piano Guys at Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank)! What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius who does video, a studio engineer who writes music, a pianist who had a successful solo career, and a cellist who does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos. Tickets start at just $35 a person – for more information, call 732-842-9000.

Wednesday, August 5: It wouldn’t be the summer without The Sandy Hook Foundation’s Beach Concert Series. These concerts are free to the public, and each summer thousands of people of all ages come out to enjoy live entertainment on the beach at sunset. Each Wednesday during the summer, come enjoy live entertainment at Sandy Hook’s beach, 8/5’s performer is The Haven. For more information, call 732-291-7733.

Wednesday, August 5 – Sunday, August 9: Get ready for five days of fun dedicated to celebrating Italian heritage and culture at the 39th Annual Italian Festival! The event is free and will take place from 5-11pm at Joe Palaia Park (Oakhurst). There will be Italian cuisine (sausage and peppers and zeppoli), as well as entertainment throughout the festival, including: A&S Sound, Mario Delano Jr., Taylor Tote, Doo Wop Pop Disco, and Eric DeLauro. Enjoy rides, games, raffles, food eating contests and fireworks, which will be displayed at 9:30 p.m. August 7. For more information, call 732-517-1040.

August 6, 13, 20, and 27: Come ready to purchase Jersey’s finest produce and goods at Keyport’s Farmers Market! Shop a variety of fresh produce, honey/beeswax products, pickles, relish, olives, potted plants, and so much more. For more information, call 732-739-5138.

Saturday, August 8Head on over to Keansburg Amusement Park for Hot Rods & Food Trucks! As one of their signature events, attendees can enjoy classic cars and food truck cuisine from 11am-6pm. This family friendly event is a feast for the eyes and taste-buds, so bring your appetite! The event is located right on Beachway, in between the Water Park and Amusement Park. Tickets to the attractions may be purchased at the Park, and there will be free admission for the event. For more information, call 732-841-7732.

Saturday, August 15 – Sunday, August 16: Does anything scream summer at the Jersey Shore more than fresh seafood? Come celebrate the best the ocean has to offer at Monmouth Park’s (Oceanport) annual two-day Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off! Dine on everything from chowder, to lobster rolls, to some of the best crab cakes you’ve ever had. Throw in some live music and the excitement of live, thoroughbred racing and this event will have you hungry for more. The event will be held from noon-5pm. For more information, call 732-222-5100.

Sunday, August 16: Love art? Stop by the 10th Annual Boardwalk Art Show in Asbury Park, sponsored by the Asbury Park Historical Society. This exhibit features fine art, oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pastel photographs and sculptures! For more information, call 848-667-3432.

Thursday, August 20 – Sunday, August 23: Come one, come all to the 25th Annual Colts Neck Country Fair! The fair will feature food, entertainment, vendors, rides and games. Daily entertainment includes performances by: August 20 – Matt O’Ree Band, August 21 – Moroccan Sheepherders, August 22 – Rock of Ages Band/Constantine Maroulis, August 23 – Slim Chance and The Gamblers. For more information, call 732-462-8500.

Friday, August 28: Come watch the talented Cassadee Pope in Concert at iPlay America (Freehold)! With soaring vocals, opening slots on major tours, impressive sales and being selected for CMT’s Next Women of Country, Cassadee Pope continues to add to her growing list of accolades. Mentor Blake Shelton presented the season three winner of The Voice with another fan-voted honor – 2014 CMT Music Awards’ Breakthrough Video of the Year. She ended 2014 with a Female Vocalist of the Year nomination at the first-ever American Country Countdown Awards. For more information, call 732-577-8200.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

10 Best Values in Used Cars

Good news for used-car buyers: Desirable trade-ins and vehicles at the end of their lease, especially luxury models — are streaming onto the used-car market, and that means more choices at lower prices.

Ten vehicles were chosen between three and four years old that not only were tops in Kiplinger’s rankings for performance, value, and safety when they were new – but also get good marks for reliability.

These vehicles have automatic transmissions, unless noted otherwise, and all have standard stability control and front, front-side and head-protecting airbags. Dealer, private-party and certified prices are averages based on actual transactions reported by Kelley Blue Book for previously owned vehicles with 12,000 miles per year. Check them out!

  • 2011 Honda Civic
  • 2011 Toyota Prius
  • 2010 Subaru Legacy
  • 2011 Toyota Camry
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan
  • 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander
  • 2010 Lexus RX 350
  • 2010 Mazda CX-9
  • 2011 Acura MDX
  • 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe

Click here to learn more about each of these top 10 pre-owned vehicles.

If you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, stop by First Financial and apply for an Auto Loan with us! We have the same great low rates whether you plan on purchasing a new or used vehicle. To apply, click here for our online application or stop into any branch location. PLUS, when you’re approved for a new Auto Loan of at least $15k you’ll receive a $100 Visa Gift Card for gas and an auto emergency kit!* Click here to learn more about other great rewards and benefits you could earn as a member of First Financial.

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. $100 Visa gift card and free auto gift will be issued upon loan closing. Refinances will have the option to receive the Visa gift card or participate in the 2% Challenge promotion. Cannot be combined with any other offers.

Article courtesy of Kiplinger by Jessica L. Anderson.